Sustainable Infrastructure and Research Districts

David Green, Perkins+Will

As research communities continue to evolve, issues that had previously operated under the campus model are moving into areas that require cooperation between entities that had previously operated in different worlds. But this is changing rapidly. Research parks are transforming into more highly integrated communities, and new research communities are emerging in existing urban areas around the country. This transformation carries challenges that the research community will have to work to overcome. While there are a number of issues that are emerging in this sometimes-charged landscape, the most critical to the operation and success of successful research districts is the creation of an inventive framework for the design, installation and maintenance of an infrastructure system that provides the platform for research development and operation.

The roadblocks to a successfully integrated infrastructure system are numerous and run through myriad regulatory agencies and jurisdictional authorities, each with oversight of a small part of the complex assembly of utilities. The constituents in this process include the local planning agency, public works, the power company, water company, telecommunications providers, among many others. While these groups have come to a sort of understanding, or détente, in the provision of services for cities, they are generally loathe to embrace change, and continue to proceed in a typical 5-year capital improvement planning framework. In addition to the operational issues, there are also various statutory requirements; separation, sizing, sourcing, and others that were created for suburban models.

But robust research development requires something different. It requires up-front capital investment in systems that can accommodate the rigors of research operations. And in this lies the basic opportunity. It represents a significant market expansion for the utilities, in addition to increases in revenues for the local jurisdiction. But they need a road map to success.

This presentation will demonstrate how this can and is being accomplished. It will delve into the specific issues with creating this collaboration among the various participants from both operational and policy perspectives, including the funding of pre-development utilities and services. Topics that will be described include the following as district-wide systems:

Centralized and expandable chilled-water systems, redundant district-wide power systems, consistent power quality, transformer switching systems on a per-block or per-building basis, centralized back-up power management, internal uninterrupted power sources, district-wide water quality and capacity management, reclaimed water, etc

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze and evaluate the impact infrastructure design and deployment have on land-use patterns to translate this impact into a design based set of solutions that facilitates sustainable and flexible development.
  • Determine, demonstrate and apply changes in regulating and tracking infrastructure and services utilizing research and evaluation techniques that mirror basic research methodologies.
  • Apply knowledge of sustainability metrics and health metrics to facilitate design based on performance-based systems instead of checklists. Further, bring this methodology to light with consensus platform for multiple stakeholders and providers.


David Green’s work focuses on health and research districts and the metrics that drive these districts, including the regulatory framework within which this development occurs, and provides innovative strategies for appropriate policy implementation for seamless incorporation of research and healthcare specific elements in new districts. He is located in both the Atlanta and London offices of Perkins+Will, leading planning efforts in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

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